Authors: K.C. May
Tags: #heroic fantasy, #epic fantasy, #women warriors, #sword and sorcery, #fantasy adventure
The Wayfarer King
Book two of the Kinshield Saga
by K.C. May
The Wayfarer King
Copyright 2011 by K.C. May
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
This book is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents depicted herein are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the author’s work.
Cover design and layout by T.M. Roy / TERyvisions www.teryvisions.com / Sword designed by T.M. Roy
Map of Thendylath by Jared Blando / www.theredepic.com
He picked up her hand and gripped it as he would in a handshake. “Daia, I’m asking you to be my champion.”
The smell of the crackling mesquite logs in the fireplace at the Elegance Inn filled Gavin Kinshield’s nose, and the flicker of the fire’s golden light on Daia’s face illuminated the shock in her gaping mouth and wide eyes. Gavin grinned, amused that she hadn’t anticipated the question. Wasn’t that what she wanted? She’d hinted as much in the days leading up to their journey to the Rune Cave and assumed the role in the three days since.
Their relationship had been forged on the roads of Thendylath in search of a kidnapped blacksmith. It had been sharpened in the battle against Brodas Ravenkind for the sword, Aldras Gar, and for the King’s Blood-stone. Now it would be polished and wielded over a lifetime of battle and labor as he worked to rebuild the country as its new king. He’d received her pledge of fealty already, but this was different.
Her hand tightened around his own. “Yes. With all my heart, yes.” Her voice quavered thickly. Her pale-blue eyes gleamed in the flickering light of the fire. “I would love nothing more, and I’m honored you asked.” Still gripping his hand, she went to one knee before him. “I, Daia Saberheart, daughter of Dashel Celónd, pledge my life to protect and serve you. As your champion, I offer this solemn vow: to take up arms and defend your health, your honor and your right to rule Thendylath. As I swear before my king, this service is yours for as long as I draw breath.”
“Did you just make that up?”
Letting go of his hand, Daia smiled as she retook her seat on the chair beside him. “Yes. Did you like it?”
“It sounded very courtly.” Gavin breathed his relief. “Awright, that’s one thing off my mind. Now for the rest.”
“What worries you more, the demon in the palace or Ravenkind?”
Gavin ran his tongue over the gap where his right eyetooth used to be. Brodas Ravenkind, no doubt livid over losing the battle for the King’s Blood-stone, wanted Gavin dead, but monstrous beyonders invaded the realm of men every day, slaughtering innocent people, leaving orphans and widows and parents torn apart by grief. These were his people. Their safety was his first concern. “Ravenkind can wait. As long as Ritol’s imprisoned in the palace, the invasion will never end. I got to deal with Ritol first.”
got to. You’re not alone. Did your vision in Sohan give you any idea how to send it back?”
It wasn’t a vision he’d had but an ancient memory. He knew that now, and he knew what he had to do. The notion of facing the most powerful of beyonders gave Gavin a chill. He stood and went to the fire to warm himself, but its heat did nothing to comfort him from the shuddersome thoughts roiling through his mind. “King Arek’s plan was to enter the beyonders’ realm and summon Ritol. He was going to take Ronor along to buy him time to find the vortex and return home, but for some reason, he abandoned the plan. He said it was flawed, but he didn’t tell me why. I think it was because he didn’t have you.”
“But you do. What’s our plan? How are you supposed to find the vortex and summon Ritol?”
Gavin returned to his seat. “Help me a second, will you?” He felt Daia’s mystical conduit-force connect with him. At once, his muscles felt stronger, his hearing sharper, his thoughts clearer. He let his mind drift two hundred years into the past when he was Ronor Kinshield, champion to King Arek, back to the moment he found the king in his private study, chiseling the runes into the tablet, infusing the five gems with his magic. Images and memories flooded his mind, images of the king lying broken and dying, the queen brutally slain in a cave, memories of the lordover’s comforting words assuring him they would devise a way to restore the monarchy.
He pushed aside the haunting images and thought back to the times they’d traveled across the country. King Arek would sometimes stop, peer into the distance, then change course to find someplace that looked like any other place to Ronor’s eye. Then he would step through an invisible door into nothingness and come back hours or sometimes days later with stories of beings both terrifying and lofty. Somehow Gavin was supposed to know how to do that too.
He released the connection with Daia and blinked, clearing away the images and settling his eyes back on the inn’s hearth. “King Arek used his magic to find the vortex. Guess I got to learn how, then go through it.”
She nodded. “Do you have what you need to summon Ritol once we get through the vortex?”
“Not yet. I need a Rune o’Summoning.” Ronor had never seen the rune, but he’d known there were two. King Arek had one, and Crigoth Sevae, the would-be usurper who’d summoned Ritol, had the other. “King Arek died in the palace with one in his possession. Sevae had the other, but I don’t remember where he lived, so I don’t know where to look for it.”
Gavin realized she didn’t know he was Ronor Kinshield reborn because he hadn’t told her. That detail would stay his secret for now. Maybe forever. “Did I say remember? Anyway, maybe the curator at the museum in Ambryce has Sevae’s rune in his collection. I want Stronghammer to put the other two gems into the hilt o’my sword, anyway.” He’d been carrying the fourth and fifth gems from the Rune Tablet around with him and was eager to have them safely placed into the hilt so he wouldn’t lose them. “Let’s leave for Ambryce tomorrow.”
“Perhaps the mage who enchanted it can teach you to find the vortex. I’ll introduce you.” She yawned and stood. “We should try to get some sleep. It’s a long ride.”
“Yeh, goodnight.” He stared into the fire, listening to her footsteps fade up the stairs. Though Ritol troubled him, something else kept him from sleep and twisted his gut with worry, something Brodas Ravenkind said four years ago, after slaying Gavin’s wife and daughter.
Cross me again and I’ll kill every Kinshield in Thendylath and deliver their heads to you.
Brodas Ravenkind put his fingers in his ears while Cirang heaved an ax against the library wall. Mortar and clay chips flew as she hit it repeatedly. He squeezed his eyes shut as she swung the ax again. This was the sort of task he normally delegated to his cousin, Warrick, whose height and strength were better suited to physical labor.
Every time he thought about Warrick, murdered in an alley by Gavin Kinshield or one of his friends, Brodas felt his anger renewed. If only the ax’s target were Kinshield’s skull. Of all the ways Brodas envisioned killing that bloody usurper, using an ax was not his favorite. He wanted it to hurt, yes, but mostly he wanted Kinshield to suffer. “Hit it harder,” he told Cirang.
Cirang stopped and pulled a rag from her waistband to wipe her brow. “I’m hitting as hard as I can.” She lifted the ax to her shoulder once more.
As she was about to take another swing, Brodas heard the manor’s back door open. “Wait!”
Cirang took a battle stance. They waited and listened as a single pair of footsteps tromped through the kitchen and down the hall, the intruder apparently unconcerned about being discovered.
“Lord Brodas?” a deep voice called.
“Red!” Never had Brodas been so happy to see the rough swordsman. Despite his many flaws, Red was loyal and obedient and right now, that was all Brodas really needed. With Warrick murdered, his contingent of Viragon Sister guards turned against him, and his associates Tyr and Toren presumably dead, Brodas needed Red now more than ever. “Red, I’m back here.”
The big redhead ambled up, smelling strongly of sweat and horse. His arrival could not have been more timely, though Brodas could have used him during the recent battle with Kinshield. Red looked at the broken wall of Brodas’s library with wide eyes. “What’s this about? Who’s she?” He set a battered leather satchel on the floor by his feet.
“This is Cirang, formerly of the Viragon Sisterhood. Did you find the gargoyle merchant?” Brodas asked.
“Yeh, I found him in the market district with a wagon full o’the things.” Red knelt and started to dig through his satchel. “Good news. You’ll like this. He told me that if the person who puts the gargoyle on a chest dies, you just got to put another on the chest to open it. The magic o’the two gargoyles will combine into the live one. Then you can remove the old one and use it as your own.”